Restart, Restore, Reboot!

For some reason, people often come to me when they have problems with their technology (I can't imagine why, can you?).

They will run down the list of things they have tried. They are exasperated. The are out of options. And 9 times out of 10, my answer is the same: "Turn it off, then turn it back on."

Sometimes, our technology gets tired. It gets jammed up with too many tasks running at once. And the best thing you can do is restart the device, and let it reboot. More often than not, it is as simple as that. Your laptop, iPad, smartphone, tablet, etc, needs to reboot. The software needs to shut completely down and get a new start.

And your pastor is kind of like your laptop.

I just got back from two Sundays away from congregation that I serve. For one week I was leading / participating in a continuing education event, and for the other week I was on vacation with my family.

For two weeks, I did not preach. I did not attend any congregational meetings, or respond to any crises. My phone did not ring with all sorts of requests for information or time. I focused on the continuing education event while I was there, and I focused on my family when I was there.

On the day I got back into the office I outlined 3 sermons, 5 blog posts / newsletter articles, and started work on the confirmation program for the Fall (and of course, caught up on the email and phone messages). I had more ideas than I could keep up with. My system needed a restart, and once I got that I was back at full speed.

Yup. On vacation we visited churches
What a couple of geeks ;) 
So here's the deal. If you are a member of a church, encourage your pastors to take all their allotted vacation and continuing education time every year. Even to take at least two Sundays in a row at least once a year, in order to fully reboot. When your pastors return, they will be more energetic, creative, excited, and passionate. At the end of the day, it is the congregation that benefits most when pastors take their vacation.

How can you do that? How can you help your pastor to take the vacation time and reboot?

  1. Make sure your pastor is allotted enough vacation every year. Don't make your pastor ask for vacation; instead be an advocate for your pastor at congregational meetings and council/board/vestry meetings. 
  2. Ask what needs to be done while the pastor is gone. Oftentimes there are a myriad of little tasks every week that can be easily handed off. Make sure that the pastor knows that they are taken care of. 
  3. Attend worship. Seriously. When your pastor is gone, make sure to be in worship. Pastors worry about the congregations we serve, because we love our congregations. We want the members of the churches we serve to worship, and it can be hard to leave town knowing that your absence will be a reason for much of the congregation to stay away. 
  4. Don't call. Pastor's often do work related stuff around the clock. Phone calls, emails, text messages, and other conversations happen non-stop in the life of a pastor. And it's great - we love to hear from you. We love to hear about your life and everything that is going on. But when we are on vacation, pastors need to unplug from it all and get a little break. If it can wait until after vacation, then wait. 
  5. Extra credit! Do you have a vacation home, timeshare weeks, etc? Offer them to your pastor when you aren't using them. For many pastors, cost is a big factor in not taking vacation. If you have a way to help with that, your pastor would most often deeply appreciate it. 

And of course, if you are a pastor TAKE YOUR VACATION. Being a workaholic is not helping your ministry. Go and rest. Go and be restored. Hit the restart button.

Every so often, pastors have to reboot, restart, and be restored.